Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to speak today on what is proving to be one of the least popular budget bills in modern Canadian parliamentary history, although I regret not having the opportunity to address the ill-conceived Canada infrastructure bank directly, since it has been embedded in one of those omnibus bills and legislation. I will therefore dedicate my remarks to talking a bit about another Liberal boondoggle.
Bill C-63 is a continuation of the decline we have seen the government taking Canada on since it was first elected. Why is this a surprise? It is the Liberal way to tell Canadians one thing at election time and then do something completely different while it is in power.
I remember the election campaign. The Liberals promised a small deficit of $10 billion to fund infrastructure. Many Canadians voted for a modest deficit, taking the Prime Minister at his word, in contrast to the fiscal responsibility promoted by my own party and also, quite frankly, by the NDP.
It did not take long for the concept of a modest deficit to fall by the wayside, and since then it has spiralled out of control. The last economic update did not even offer a plan for balancing the budget. No plan at all. It is unbelievable.
What is worse is the conduct of the finance minister in regard to his own affairs. In case anybody has forgotten, let me remind the House.
First, the minister failed to put his assets from his family firm Morneau Shepell, a human resources and pension management firm, in a blind trust, despite saying he would do so. These assets consisted of millions of shares, which are worth approximately $21 million in current stock prices.
Second, the minister continued to receive dividends on these shares, dated from the time he was elected. At a dividend rate of about 6.5¢ a share, the minister was roughly earning $65,000 a month over the past two years. For comparison, according to Statistics Canada, the median wage of an individual worker in the province of Ontario, the area I represent, is just over $44,000 per year. That is $20,000 less per year than our finance minister was earning per month from dividends alone. That is on top of his salary as a cabinet minister. Said another way, the average Ontario worker makes $20,000 less over the course of a year than the minister made per month. Now, there is a clear message for the middle class.
Third, we also learned that while the minister was calling small business owners tax cheats, he apparently forgot to disclose that he owned a private corporation, with a sole purpose of owning a villa in the south of France. I guess it is a small villa, maybe a “villette”. Why own a corporation to own a villa? To avoid paying inheritance tax, of course, the same tax the minister has proposed to the farmers of my riding when they transfer their family farms to the next generation of Canadians. We should be proud that the next generation of Canadians wants to farm our great country.
Fourth, we also learned that Morneau Shepell, the minister's aforementioned family business, had an $8 million contract to manage the pension and benefits of the Bank of Canada. What minister is responsible for the Bank of Canada? Why, the Minister of Finance.
To summarize, the minister continued to hold shares in a company he regulated, while the company signed a contract with a department for which he was responsible. It is really quite astounding. One would think that this minister would have been fired for this clear conflict of interest. The Ethics Commissioner, to her credit, has fined the minister for this breach. However, the Prime Minister continues to defend him and allow this attack on our farmers to continue while not dealing with his own minister.
Bill C-63 would simply continue the out-of-control spending of the Liberal government and would further hike taxes on everyone it has claimed to help. The Liberals are adding debt at the twice the rate that promised and the minister's own numbers project debt for every year in the future. Unfortunately for Canadians, someone has to pay for this Liberal spending spree, and it is middle-class Canadians. In fact, it is estimated that more than 80% of the middle class pay more tax today under the Liberals than under the previous government.
Regarding some of the specifics of the bill, the Liberals are now going to tax our beer. Breweries in my riding, whether it be Creemore Springs, Side Launch Brewing Company, Collingwood Brewery, or Northwinds Brewery, all create jobs. They attract tourists who are eager to sample their products, and they already pay enough tax.
However, it is not enough for the Liberals, who look at successful entrepreneurs as tax cheats and a source of revenue. In fact, the Liberals are so desperate for money that they are also targeting type 1 diabetics. They have now decided to deny type 1 diabetics their tax credits. Individuals who need help are going to help the Liberals get back into the black, I guess.
The Canada Revenue Agency itself confirmed that with respect to insulin therapy, new direction was given at the beginning of May regarding applications under the disability tax credit. This change in direction was unannounced, and it has caused huge confusion and suffering for those suffering from type 1 diabetes. It has resulted in hundreds of diabetics receiving less funding by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.
What is worse is that the minister has the power to stop it today, but she and her fellow cabinet colleagues, her government, her colleagues on the other side of the House, have not reverted the directive. It is simple. A directive from her to her department will reverse the changes and allow those type 1 diabetics to receive their tax credits until further consultation could be done. I raised this in the House last Friday, but to my knowledge, the minister has yet to act.
Another item that would be created with this omnibus bill, Bill C-63, is another infrastructure bank support. We saw in the omnibus bill, Bill C-44, the creation of the Canada infrastructure bank. It is a $35-billion boondoggle. François Beaudoin, the former CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada and witness at the Gomery inquiry into Liberal corruption, stated that this new bank is easily open to “political interference”. However, in the rush to create that fund, the Liberals ignored everyone.
This time there is a commitment to support another infrastructure bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, for an immediate investment of $256 million, and a further authorization in the future for the potential of another $480 million. The Liberals will have bought 1% of this bank. What do taxpayers get back? Nothing. We commit money as Canadians so that other countries can get cheaper loans and build their infrastructure. By bringing Canada into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Liberals would be sending hundreds of millions of Canadian taxpayer dollars to foreigners with no control over how the money would be spent or whether or not Canadian companies would benefit, let alone Canadian citizens.
As I have said previously, I am very confident in saying that Canadians want investments in our infrastructure here in Canada. Whether it be in my riding, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Adjala-Tosorontio, Angus, or Alliston, we know that infrastructure is needed. Canadian citizens need it so that they can make their businesses more successful, and so that they can make sure their children get to school safely.
I was happy to be a part of a previous government that understood that we worked with our allies, the United States and Japan, and did not support this bank. We could not then, and the Liberals cannot now, ensure that the bank would follow environmental, social, and human rights standards that we expect of our institutions. Therefore, while they preach about human rights and environmental policy standards here at home and to others abroad, they are prepared to turn a blind eye when it suits their needs.
Bill C-63 is a continuation of a shameful decline in our government finances. I will be voting against it, and I encourage all members on both sides of the House to vote against the bill, which is one that invests in others outside of our nation's borders and not in Canadians.